FMC to start Pocatello cleanup


The FMC Corp. is moving forward with cleanup efforts at its former elemental phosphorus processing plant near Pocatello.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has issued an administrative order that outlines the schedule and guides the cleanup.

"This order paves the way for FMC to address the contamination at the former FMC facility," Rick Albright, director of EPA's Superfund Office in Seattle, said in a news release. "FMC will immediately begin the engineering design work and we hope to see heavy equipment on site and working by next summer."

Paul Yochum, former manager of the plant that closed in 2001, says FMC is eager to begin work.

"The remedial actions specified ... are first scientifically sound, second protective of human health and the environment, and third consistent with remedial actions implemented successfully at similar sites around the country," Yochum says.

Still, not everyone is happy with the cleanup plans.

The Superfund site includes more than 1,000 acres of the Fort Hall Indian Reservation. Fort Hall Business Chairman Nathan Small says the tribes find the order unacceptable.

"EPA paves the way for FMC to sweep their 50-year legacy under the rug," Small said in a news release, which adds that the plan allows FMC to "cover up" rather than "clean up" the contaminants. "It will leave thousands of tons of ignitable and reactive waste within our homeland and generate toxic phosphine and other gases indefinitely."

FMC says its capping and containment method is proven to keep contamination in place and protect people and the environment.

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